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Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

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Nusrat Fateh

Nusrat: The genius lives on
By Anis Shakur

Dum mustt mustt, dum mustt
Dekho phirtay hain dum, dum Ali, Ali
Dum mustt Qalandar mustt, mustt
Sakhi lal Qalandar mustt, mustt

Imagine the awesome influence of one of the greatest Qawwal about whom two thousand plus articles have been written in the past three years alone the world over.
 
Besides, more than one thousand observations are online, a lot of them have been penned by the western writers who do not understand a word of Urdu.
 
In 1979, at the height of his fame, Nusrat had accepted an invitation to perform at the nuptials of Rishi, son of legendary actor Raj Kapoor, which was attended by the big wigs of the Indian film industry.
 
Nusrat achieved recognition in the United States basically because of his work with Peter Gabriel and Eddie Vedder.
 
Nusrat composed music for many foreign movies like Martin Scorcese's 'Last temptation of Christ', Oliver Stone's 'Natural Born Killers', Tim Robin's 'Dead Man Walking', Hindi film 'Bandit Queen' etc.
 
Nusrat collaborated with British Raver, 'Massive Attack'.
 
Nusrat had offered Joan Osborne to visit Pakistan to acquire the first hand information on eastern music.
 
Nusrat had plans to record an experimental album with Luciano Pavarotti.
 
However, due to Nusrat's deteriorating health the plans could not be materialized.
 
Nusrat belonged to a family of Qawwals and recorded 120 albums in his thirty-year career. (1967-1997).

Besides, he had received lifetime achievement Award in France, Japan and Pakistan.
 
A Grammy nomination was announced for Nusrat in 1997 in the traditional folk category for his album 'Intoxicated spirit'.
 
Nusrat had signed to American Recordings in the United States in 1996, which was soon followed by his first North American tour, in which he performed to celebrity-packed shows wherever he went.
 
Nusrat and Peter Gabriel worked together at the VH1 Honors concert; the song was  'In your eyes'.
 
Nusrat's Qawwalis had mesmerized Peter Gabriel so much so that the latter had invited him to work with 'WOMAD' on various assignments, including work on an album, numerous festival appearances and releases on the Virgin/Real world records label, recorded in England.
 
The first one, 'Shahenshah' was appropriately named after Nusrat's Pakistani title 'Shahenshah-e- Qawwali'.
 
'Dum mustt Qalandar mustt' was Nusrat's and experimental composer, Michael Brook's joint venture in which Nusrat endeavored to present a blend of east and west.
 
Another successive attempt of the title track by 'Massive Attack' resulted in a grand U.K. club hit.
 
From 1988 onwards, Peter Gabriel's real world label brought Nusrat to the forefront of international audience.
 
'Dust to Gold' which is comprised of the following four master-piece Qawwalis and which were recorded when Nusrat's art was at its zenith:
 
'Khwaja tum he ho'
'Data teira darbar'
'Koi hai na hoga'
'Noor-e-Khuda hai husn-e-sarapa Rasool'
 
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan was born on July 12, 1948, in Lyallpur, modern Faisalabad, Punjab, Pakistan, to a renowned Qawwal family. Nusrat took keen interest in Qawwali since his childhood.
 
His father, Ustad Fateh Ali Khan and his uncle, Mubarak Ali Khan, were prominent Qawwals of their times.
 
In 1971, 23 year old Nusrat came in the lime-light, when he had a vision that he was performing at the shrine of the reputable muslim scholar, Hazrat  Khwaja Moin -Uddin Chishti, in Ajmer, India.
 
Nusrat's initial recordings were done in Pakistan in 1973 and many EMI (Pakistan) albums came out in the voice of Nusrat and his uncle, Mubarak.
 
In the next two decades (1973-93) more than 50 albums were released, which were stamped with Nusrat's name on innumerable Pakistani, British, American, European and Japanese labels.
 
Nusrat's major breakthrough came with the Real world label, which took his popularity to Europe and America.
 
I have yet to see a fan of Nusrat who is not moved by these lyrics:
 
'Tera naam loon zaban say
teiray Aagay sar jhuka doon
mera ishq keh raha hai
main tujhay Khuda bana doon'
 
Nusrat died on Saturday, August 16, 1997 due to a cardiac arrest at a London hospital at the age of 49.
 
A befitting tribute to Nusrat by late Jeff Buckley:
 
'Part Buddha, part demon, part mad angel, his voice is velvet fire, simply incomparable'.
 
There had been Qawwals before Nusrat and there are Qawwals after him, too, but there will never be another genius quite like Nusrat.
 
 

 

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